Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday's Western Heroes...

Do you like your heroes tall, dark, and handsome? Are they always topped with a Stetson hat?

Check out Wednesday's Western Hero... Dobson Winters from A Cordial Christmas now out at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Smashwords.

With a half turn, he slammed the wood at the entranceway so, the windows along the front of the great room rattled. His left hand reached out and swiped the weapon off the table surface. He took one-step toward his desk and spied his Chinese cook peering around the edge of the dining room. His eyes rounded, a meat cleaver raised in his right hand. Dobson leveled him a hard glance.
"Ain't you got some meat that needs fixing?"
No sooner had the words left his mouth, than the little man disappeared. He rushed toward the kitchen, his queue waving madly down his back, with a stream of gibberish echoing in his wake.
"Good." he huffed.
Stomping to the gun cabinet, the cattleman removed the loose lock and stowed the firearm away. He put the unspent shell beside the weapon in case any other do-gooder ventured into his path. The door closed, he turned the key in the lock and secured the guns from prying hands. Staring at the silver key, the edges of his mouth turned down.
Who was he kidding? There weren't any prying hands. That dream ended ten years ago like so many others. His fingers closed around the key so tight, he could feel the cold metal cut into his skin of his palm. Damn them all for reminding him of the season.
A log in the hearth split. The sound echoed across the room and sent sparks leaping up the chimney. He heard the wood break apart with a heave; then give something akin to a human gasp of despair. A sudden chill filled the air. He shook it off and walked to the fireplace to stare. One hand on the mantle, without thinking, he placed a boot upon the stone edge, and reached for the wrought iron poker to shove the timber further back.
Ten years ago, next week, he sighed and it seemed like yesterday.
Not wanting to dwell on the memory, he placed the poker back, and moved across the room to his desk. Issuing a grunt, Dobson sat down and picked up his pencil, intent on resuming his work. There were only two pages to put in his ledger. Concentrating on the figures, he could push all the other thoughts from his mind.
Two hundred cattle marked to make their way down to the winter pastures. From that, he and his men would cut out the heifers due to calf and move them closer to the barn. He wanted the accounts up to date so they could order supplies against the first snows of winter that were bound to fall soon. Tomorrow, he'd make the journey into town and lay in the basics. His thoughts drifted to the conversation with the men from town. On second thought, he'd make sure to double it. That way, he wouldn't be bothered to go into town and have his ear bent about their foolish notions of celebrating a holiday meant to line a merchant's pockets until long after the first of the year.
He counted the tallies again and as he worked, the pale sunlight moved at a steady pace across the desk. A twinkle flashed and caught his eye. He brought his gaze up and found the golden light centered on the woman pictured in the framed tin-type. He paused. His heart tightened as he remembered the luminescence of her blue eyes, similar to smoke. Her dark hair, as she always wore it, in one long braid and coiled at the nape of her neck. His mouth softened. In the picture, he could see the two hairpins, which held that thick braid in place.
Another memory surfaced making him wince. He'd ridden a loco horse at the county fair that summer in order to earn enough money to buy the jade combs she'd seen in the window down in Austin. They were building this home back then. Most days, he hardly had enough money to make ends meet let alone give 'em extras. But, oh, how her eyes had lit up when she saw those pretties. She'd never asked, just given a soft sigh that turned his heart over as they walked away.
It was something a man couldn't forget. Scrimping and saving added enough to the winnings. In the middle of a blinding snowstorm, he'd ridden down and shown up at the door by daybreak. Curled up in an old thin coat, he sat and waited, till they opened. The wrapping was worse than any kid's. Still, when he'd given them to her, she'd cried. Unable to stand her crying, he'd kissed her and kept right on kissing until all traces of her tears were gone. Forgotten were the chores and the cattle. Alone in this cabin, they did what a man and woman did best - made love.
How his heart ached. The memory of lying in her sweet arms made his heart ache. He placed his pencil down to rub the sear from his chest as he reached out and picked up the frame. She might be gone, but the hurt was never far from the surface. That day, in that cold creek, the rushing water took her laughter, took everything that made living so easy. Worse, it took the innocent bundle she held close to her heart and for that, he'd never forgive.

To purchase your copy of A Cordial Christmas for $0.99 please follow the links below,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Amy Atwell talks about social media and the writer.

Good Morning to all this fine Monday. I'm bringing in a friend to discuss the writer and social media. Its true that writing is a verb. Writers - write, but it's also true in this day of limited attention spans that we must labor to not only write but get our "name", our "brand" out in the public eye. So I brought in the big guns, Amy Atwell a fellow RWA member, a mover and shaker in the world or writing. Here's a bit of back ground on Amy. You'll quickly see that Amy doesn't flirt around. She's on a mission and when you best step up to the plate when you hang in her circle.

Amy Atwell worked in professional theater management for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her historical romance AMBERSLEY hit the Top 100 on both Kindle and Nook and has sold over 30,000 copies. When not writing, Amy runs the WritingGIAM online community for goal-oriented writers and has recently launched Author E.M.S., the online business resource library for authors. An Ohio native, Amy now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband, two Russian Blues and a demon kitten. Visit her online at her website, Magical Musings, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.

Amy has agreed to give her expertise and answer questions today, so don't hesitate to ask. If any one knows.. its Amy.

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me to meet your readers today. I’m a bit of an extrovert, so I love meeting new people!

Social Media: Balm or Bane for Authors?

How many of you use some form of social media? Facebook and Twitter seem to be the bastions most popular with authors today. But there’s also LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and more. Social networking is what drives GoodReads, Shelfari and LibraryThing. Even Pandora radio lets you create a profile page and encourages a community of listeners.
Many authors find it all overwhelming. It’s a challenge to find enough time to write fiction, much less post and pin and tweet. So where is the sweet spot? Just how important is social media to authors?
If you’re serious about a long-term writing career, social media will continue to be an important and viable source of promotion and audience building. But, and here’s the key, it’s only going to work for you if—

1. You find at least one of social network that you enjoy.
2. You strike a balance between your online social networking and your writing.
3. You approach social networking with the same imagination and commitment you bring to your writing.

Doesn’t sound too scary, does it?
Here’s why I think it’s important—the Internet isn’t likely to disappear. Millions of people are on it, and millions more are buying smart phones and tablets because they can’t get enough of it. In some ways, our society is growing more fragmented, with less person to person interaction in real life. At the same time, people seek out and savor their interactions on social media.
This is where social media works so well for authors. Most stories have some element of human connection at the core of the story. A hero learning to trust. A heroine returning to confront her hometown memories. A family on the brink of disaster brought whole again.
The readers who love those kinds of stories are out there in social media as squawking and hungry as birds. Keep tossing out birdseed on a regular basis, and those birds will find their way to you. Readers who connect with you and your stories will become loyal fans. They will spread the word for you. Remember the old shampoo commercial? “And they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends…” and so on and so on.
That’s the magic of social networking.
You may be a pantser when you write but plotting or, rather, planning ahead will save you a lot of headaches with social media. Make a game plan for yourself so you can make the most of your social networking. And if you’re not published yet, it’s not too early to get a jump start on this. By all means, start to build your tribe now.

1. Study the different social networks and decide which one(s) best match how you want to communicate with potential fans and fellow authors.
2. Secure your profiles on any (frankly, I would do all just in case) social network you plan to use. Ideally, use your writing name.
3. Find an image and write a short bio so your profiles are consistent.
4. Make a list of the topics you will discuss—and not discuss—on social networking. You want to be personable and friendly in your interactions, but remember anything you say can come back to bite you and your career.
5. Start slowly and blend in. Join in other conversations, repeat items of interest, help your fellow authors. Don’t just pop in and shout about your book.
6. Ask questions! Experienced users love to help newbies.
7. Set aside some time weekly, 30-60 minutes to seek out people to follow and friend.
8. Be gracious. Send thank yous to people who repeat your messages.
9. Tend your social network account(s) daily, whenever possible. Each day you miss, you will lose a bit of momentum. 15 minutes is all it takes, really!
10. Be prepared to adapt as the social networks grow and change.

I’ll mention that Facebook is in the midst of rolling out its new Timeline design. Both personal profiles and business (author) pages are changing. You can read a full article on it on Author E.M.S., the online business resource library for authors.
I hope some of that was helpful. I’m happy to field any other questions you might have about social media—so, tell me, what’s your biggest fear or frustration with social networks?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What are you doing to jump start your career

We all know that writing is a verb. Writers duh write. But in this day and age, with the opportunities that abound, writers need to do more than just huddle in our cold dark cave and labor over a raw manuscript. Shaping and reshaping until the clay becomes the mold of a great story. Writers need to not only converse with other writers, but to take charge of their careers.

With the explosion of ebooks, writers have been in some ways given their emancipation from agents, which, in itself, is a double edged sword. Agents are needed to submit work to New York publishers and in some cases e pubs, but in order to attract agents, writers need to have published work. So how do we handle this seemingly double standards?

First and foremost, writers need to be aware of opportunities. Yes, they do only knock once. While on the trail of a good agent, writers need to show they can produce work. So, it is important to know what publishers are looking for. A writer must gleam the slush pile quotes and needs from editors by keeping abreast of what the market is looking for.

How many of you make list for the grocery store? We know that going into the store without one means we often spend more money by picking up unwanted items. The same can be said for our writing. Yes, its important to write the story of your heart. But, it can also help your career to pick two to three targeted publishers both standard and E then read what their editors are searching for. Does it fall into your interest? Can you craft a synopsis or outline of a story by looking at their new lines. If so, do it, write it, send it. Choose to have your work in your hands. It is always so much better to be proactive than reactive.

Once you have submitted your idea, get on with your other writings. Yes, you'll obsess by checking your emails, wondering, marking the days to come, but who knows after 6 to 12 weeks you might get the go ahead on the project and propel your writing into new markets. Isn't that just what you wanted?

So get started by perusing epubs, making a target list, reading some of their books and throwing caution to the wind, take your pen and write. The world is your oyster, cave and all.

Happy March writing,

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